Pop Culture Paganism Pt 2- Interview with Taylor Ellwood, author of “Pop Culture Magick”


I can honestly say when I started writing the first of this series of blogs on Pop Culture Paganism I did not realize the full scope of its system. Although, it does not resonate with me, I can understand its appeal and how one can employ its system of belief. When I wrote part one what I had thought I understood of Pop Culture Paganism was just one aspect of its thoughts on a spiritual universe. It was not until after I spoke with Taylor Ellwood via email that I began to understand the scope of its complexity. Especially in the idea of whether not one can worship the Justice League as Gods.

Taylor Ellwood considers himself a “magical experimenter” that has created four different systems of magick and is the author of multiple books on advanced and cutting edge magick and Pop Culture Paganism. As a self-taught magician, he has an extensive background in magick and has studied and practiced various systems, including Western Ceremonial Magic, Chaos Magic, Neo-shamanism, Taoism, Dzogchen, and Tantra. Taylor is the creator and founder of the Magical Experiments University, where he offers classes, specialized training, and co-op experiments in magick. And of course he loves pop culture, spending his free time playing video games, reading sci-fi and fantasy books.

EM: After I posted my article on Pop Culture Paganism,‭ ‬I noticed a lot of mixed feelings of its acceptance within the pagan community,‭ ‬How would you approach the negative or purist comments about Pop Culture Paganism‭? ‬How do you feel is the best way to explain it to the broader community‭?

TE:‭ ‬I ignore the purist comments about Pop Culture Paganism and Magic.‭ ‬There‭’‬s no argument they‭’‬ll accept about the validity of pop culture spiritual practices,‭ ‬and so it‭’‬s a wasted effort.‭ ‬The best way to explain pop culture paganism to the larger community is to simply share that you believe in pop culture spirits and have created magical workings‭ ‬rituals around that belief that allows them to connect meaningfully with the spirits they‭’‬ve chosen to work with.‭ ‬And the advice I would give to someone practicing Pop Culture Paganism is not to focus on trying to get acceptance from the larger‭ ‬Pagan‭ ‬community,‭ ‬but instead focus on connecting with other Pop Culture Pagans and Magicians.

EM: I based my article on a question that was posed to a Facebook group,‭ “‬Can you worship the Justice League as Gods‭? ‬In your book,‭ “‬Pop Culture Magic Systems‭”‬ you explain how one can create a system of magick and practice from their favorite genre of Pop Culture.‭ ‬Going back to the posted Facebook question,‭ ‬Is it possible to create an entire magick and belief system around the Justice League universe‭?

TE:‭ ‬Why not‭? ‬People have‭ ‬done it with the Marvel Universe,‭ ‬so it could certainly be done with the Justice League as well.‭ ‬To do it successfully requires a solid understanding of how magic works and the person should spend some time working with each character so that they can develop the appropriate relationship and understanding of how those spirits will fit into the system.

EM: Do you feel that these characters can be archetypes of the traditional gods or could they just be a new face to an old name‭?

TE:‭ ‬Do they need to be either‭?‬ It could be enough that they are spirits in their own right that can be worked with.‭ ‬Of course the other perspectives could also be valid.‭ ‬The only way to find out though is to do the work.

EM: Why do you think‭ “‬beings‭”‬ and characters such as Merlin and Hercules are widely more acceptable in the use of magick in the Pagan community rather than let‭’‬s say Dr.‭ ‬Strange and Superman‭?

TE:‭ ‬If it‭’‬s old then it has value.‭ ‬If it‭’‬s new,‭ ‬then it doesn‭’‬t.‭ ‬That‭’‬s the best way to sum up why certain spirits are considered more acceptable versus others.‭ ‬It‭’‬s worth noting, though both Merlin and Hercules were‭ ‬the pop culture of their time,‭ ‬the myths and that Dr.‭ ‬Stranger and Superman is part of the mythology of our time.‭

EM: Concerning your article,‭ “‬How Pop Culture promotes interest in Mythology‭”‬ on witchesandpagan.com.‭ ‬One thing I found rather interesting was the idea that the Gods are more or less speaking through new platforms to reach a new modern audience.‭ ‬Do you think that new stories based on myths,‭ ‬such as in the new Assassins Creed Origins video game are just extensions to the old myths‭? A‬nd could they be accepted as such a thousand years from now‭?

TE:‭ ‬I don‭’‬t know that they‭’‬re extensions,‭ ‬but what I do know is that modern culture‭’‬s exploration of older mythology and the new stories that come out are another way for people to discover older mythology and the spiritual traditions that are focused around that mythology.‭ ‬And the benefit for the Gods is that it provides additional‭ ‬vectors for interaction with people who might otherwise never‭ ‬know about them.‭

EM: As an author and practitioner,‭ ‬you have released many books and articles dealing with Pop Culture Paganism and Pop Culture Magick can you explain a little about the difference between the two‭? A‬nd how they also can go hand in hand with each other‭?

TE:‭ ‬Pop Culture Paganism involves what I would consider to be a devotional approach to working with pop culture spirits.‭ ‬In other words,‭ ‬there is a recognition that the pop culture spirits are beings that the person wants to work within a devotional manner,‭ ‬which could include prayers,‭ ‬offerings,‭ ‬and rituals done for purposes of honoring the spirit,‭ ‬as well as other activities that the pop culture spirits feel are appropriate.
Pop Culture Magic involves the use of Magical techniques and practices with pop culture,‭ ‬in order to achieve a result and/or do some‭ ‬type of devotional work.‭
‭For some pop culture Pagans, the magic is optional, whereas for Pop Culture Magicians, the magic plays an integral role in their pop culture workings. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, however, and can come together if magic plays a role in the pop culture Pagan’s practice.

EM: In part one of this blog series,‭ ‬I mention how I can see traits of the Egyptian God,‭ ‬Anubis in the character of Batman.‭ ‬A few readers were in disagreement.‭ ‬Are there any specifics to the choosing who or how you see a character and the relation to a tradition deity‭?

TE:‭ ‬I don‭’‬t typically match a pop culture‭ ‬spirit with a traditional deity.‭ ‬I prefer to work with the pop culture spirit,‭ ‬in and of itself,‭ ‬instead‭ ‬of trying to map it onto a traditional deity,‭ ‬so I wouldn‭’‬t associate Batman with Anubis because they aren‭’‬t one and the same,‭ ‬and there is a huge cultural difference between the two.

EM: In my manuscript for‭ “‬The Little Witches Curriculum‭”‬ I discuss how children can use fictional characters or their favorite toys as a representation of the gods when building their personal altars.‭ ‬This concept seemed to be well received in the community,‭ ‬why do think the community looks down‭ ‬on adults who would do the same‭?

TE:‭ ‬If you like pop culture you‭’‬re considered a geek or a nerd.‭ ‬And as I mentioned above,‭ ‬what‭’‬s old is valued,‭ ‬while what‭’‬s new is‭ ‬discounted.‭

EM: In my research on the topic,‭ ‬I came across a few sites and articles referring to you as the leading expert or the creator of Pop Culture Paganism,‭ ‬to me that would be a tough burden to carry.‭ ‬How do you see yourself within the magickal community‭?

TE:‭ ‬I didn‭’‬t invent Pop Culture Paganism or Pop Culture Magic.‭ ‬I was the first person to write a book about Pop Culture Magic and of course I‭’‬ve continued to since then,‭ ‬but I‭’‬ve also written books on a variety of other magic subjects.‭ ‬I‭’‬m a magical experimenter first and foremost,‭ ‬and what really matters is the evolution of magical practice and theory.‭ ‬Pop culture magic is one avenue for that evolution and I‭’‬m pleased my works have helped other people on their own spiritual‭ ‬journey.

EM: I am assuming that you did not just wake up one day and start following a Pop Culture system of magick.‭ ‬When did you start considering yourself a Pop Culture magician and practitioner‭?

TE:‭ ‬I‭’‬ve always had an interest in pop‭ ‬culture,‭ ‬but I didn‭’‬t start practice pop culture magic until the late‭ ‬1990‭’‬s.‭ ‬I‭’‬d already been practicing magic for‭ ‬5‭ ‬years at that point,‭ ‬and I saw an opportunity to take some of the pop culture I enjoyed and apply it to magical practices.‭ ‬That‭’‬s when‭ ‬I began practicing pop culture magic.

EM: What can the community and your readers expect to see from you in the near future‭?

TE:‭ ‬Check out my site Magical Experiments,‭ ‬which also has Magical Experiments University featured on‭ ‬it,‭ ‬where I share online courses I‭’‬ve created for people who want to learn my systems of magic.‭ ‬I‭’‬m also working on my next book the Alchemy of Life,‭ ‬which is an in-depth exploration of the‭ ‬biochemistry‭ ‬of the body and how to work with it.


List of Taylor Ellwood’s books and publications

Casting Creative Magickal Circles: Samhain excerpt

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Recognized as one of the most important holidays of the year,‭ ‬Samhain,‭ ‬meaning‭ “‬Summer’s End,‭” ‬is a major festival with several aspects.‭ ‬It is the celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the dark half of the year,‭ ‬because of this transition it is also known as‭ “‬The Witches‭’ ‬New Year‭”‬.‭ ‬Many pagan traditions also see this as the time of death for the Sun and the solar gods,‭ ‬to be reborn at the Winter Solstice or Yule.‭ ‬It is a night when we remember our departed loved ones and honor our ancestors.‭ ‬Samhain is when the veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living is said to be at its thinnest.‭
Creatively speaking,‭ ‬Samhain circles are the most difficult to foster.‭ ‬There are so many different aspects of the holiday that it’s hard to focus on just one.‭ In Casting Creative Magickal Circles  I have included circles for the different themes that are commonly used in Samhain rituals.‭ This circle in particular uses an Ancestor theme that allows your ancestors to be a part of your circle and ritual. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

The Ancestor Circle

Items needed:‭ ‬photographs of your ancestors.
When casting your circle for a Samhain ritual that has an ancestor focus,‭ ‬you would begin in the west‭; ‬traditionally regarded as the realm of the dead.‭ ‬Begin by placing the first picture on the floor in the west calling out the name of the ancestor as you do.‭ ‬Continue clockwise around the parameter of your space,‭ ‬calling out each name as the picture is placed.‭ ‬If you do not have enough photographs to complete a circle,‭ ‬place them evenly throughout the circle.
When you have returned to the west,‭ ‬say or something similar:
‭“‬I have laid this circle in love and protection,
May all that have been named help hold,
This sacred space on this Samhain night.‭”
Visualize protective and loving energy connecting each picture,‭ ‬and then expanding into a sphere around your space.
Saying:‭ “‬So mote it be‭” ‬when you have created your sphere.

When you are ready to release the circle,‭ ‬starting in the west,‭ ‬walking counter-clockwise begin to pick up each picture,‭ ‬visualizing the energy being released out into the universe,‭ ‬while saying or something similar:
‭“‬I release this circle in love and honor.‭”

This circle casting can be easily adapted for group rituals as well,‭ ‬allowing all participants to bring and add their own ancestor photographs.‭


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Casting Creative Magickal Circles: Mabon excerpt


Mabon is the second in the three harvest festivals,‭ ‬also known as the Autumnal Equinox and is commonly seen as the Witch’s Thanksgiving.‭ ‬It is a day of balance,‭ ‬when the equal hours of both light and dark are seen in the sun’s journey toward the equator.

At this time,‭ ‬many Wiccans and witches give thanks to the waning sunlight,‭ ‬and the blessings we have received.‭ ‬It is a time to begin reflecting on the passing year and give thanks for what the things that we have received and learned.‭

In Wiccan lore,‭ ‬Mabon is the time when the God prepares to die to be reborn again from his mother’s,‭ ‬the Goddess‭’‬,‭ ‬womb.‭

Over the years,‭ ‬I have written many Mabon and harvest themed rituals,‭ ‬but as of late,‭ ‬I would much rather focus on a community dinner gathering to celebrate.‭ ‬These‭ “‬dinner parties‭” ‬still have the aspects of ritual‭; ‬just not as formal as they would be any other holiday.‭ ‬The three circles I have chosen to include in this chapter were created during my years in solitary practice,‭ ‬but they can easily be adapted for a group.


The Gifts that Keep on Giving Circle

Items needed:‭ ‬one apple of any color,‭ ‬a handful of quarters.
This Mabon circle’s focus is about sharing the blessings of the harvest.‭ ‬Before you begin,‭ ‬place the quarters in the apple.‭ ‬The apple will be utilized to cast the circle.‭ ‬Begin casting in the north representing abundance.‭ ‬With the apple in hand,‭ ‬walk slowly clockwise around your space,‭ ‬saying or something similar:
‭“‬I cast this circle with the blessings of abundance,
With love and for protection.
I honor,‭ ‬sacrifice on this blessed Mabon.‭”
Visualize protective and loving energy emanating from the apple,‭ ‬then expanding into a sphere around your space.
Saying:‭ “‬So mote it be‭”‬.

When you are ready to release the circle,‭ ‬starting now in the north,‭ ‬walking counter-clockwise around your space with the apple in hand.‭ ‬Visualizing the energy being into the apple,‭ ‬while saying or something similar:
‭“‬I thank the harvest for its gifts,
I release this circle out into the world,
Let it touch all those who need it love.‭”

After your ritual,‭ ‬take the quarters out of the apple and keep them with you.‭ ‬Using them for good deeds,‭ ‬such as in a parking meter that is about to run out.‭ ‬Use them in moments of‭ “‬paying it forward‭” ‬or share the harvest with those in need.


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The Protests of Philly’s Pagan Pride and Guided Meditation: Spirit of the Wolf


It has been a very busy last few weeks, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write. Over the last few weeks, I have been facilitating private ceremonies, holding workshops, and attending various Pagan events. One of those events was the Philadelphia Pagan Pride, for which I am also a board member. If you are in the “Pagan Pride” community, you might have come across a few articles about this event. It has gotten a little focus due to a few “Christian” extremists protesting the event. I went back and forth in my head whether or not to write a blog post about the protest and its effects, but decided not to add to fuel that is their fire. Instead, I will only talk about some of the positive things I experienced and then move on to a meditation.
Unfortunately,, the protest started right next to my tent, which was for the children. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the tent wasn’t for the children. This tent was meant to be a sort of refuse for children to explore and learn about their spiritual interests and should not have been exposed to the ranting of negative remarks from a hate group. Although, I don’t believe that children should be shielded from such things, there is absolutely no reason for them to be involved in it. At the start of the protest, I had a few children working on various activities and they weren’t affected by it. Once it escalated, comments and questions had erupted from a few of the children, my nephew included. I decided to take the “teachable moment” and change the focus of negativity to something positive. It became a discussion of religious acceptance and similarities, rather than prejudice and hate (sadly, from both sides). Once the protest had ended, I witnessed an amazing sight; two of the children went around the event with sage in hand, smudging all the tents and area to remove the negativity of the protest. This was completely done without adult direction and solely on their own accord. For me, this made the event a success.

One’s spirituality can be a driving force for a multitude of emotions and experiences. Which is why so many religions find themselves in some uncomfortable situations. But what happens when these situations affect us on a personal level? By utilizing some meditative techniques we can learn how to better control our emotions in these situations. Such practices of breathing and quieting the mind can help us take hold of the responses our emotions can create. Having a regular meditation practice makes it easier to use these techniques during emotional situations.
This guided meditation employs the spirit of the wolf, who in many traditions is seen as a guide to spirituality. In our meditation we will visit the moon to get a better understanding of its energies within its various phases, all by means of the wolf.


Spirit of the Wolf Guided Meditation

Begin by lighting a candle and some incense. Turn off the lights. Close your eyes, make yourself comfortable and relax. Next begin to prepare for the meditation by breathing in deeply through your nose, filling your belly, hold for a count of three and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times, or until you feel relaxed, centered and open.

Feel the room around you, acknowledge the glow of the candle and scent of incense.
As you breath in, begin to visualize the smoke of the incense circling you, surrounding you.
It begins to create a bubble around you. This bubble will protect your body on your journey.

You find yourself sitting in the dark, outside on a hill.
You can feel the cool grass beneath you, but, the air is warm around you.
Crickets quietly chirp in the distance.
Although, you are sitting in the dark, you are not afraid….
Appearing before you is the spirit of the wolf.
He sits harmlessly before you.
Looking closer you can see that he is in spirit form rather than solid, yet his soft fur sways in the warm breeze.
He will be your guide on this journey and will take you through the phases of the moon.
Begin your journey by feeling and reaching out to wolf’s energy.
Allow it to mix with your own, you will become one with wolf.

Now, as wolf, looking up to the black sky, you notice a tiny sliver of light begin to appear, it is the new moon.
Feel and see yourself going toward the moon.
At the same time the moon also comes to you.
You and the moon meet and join together.. You are the new moon….
Take some time and feel the energy of the new moon.
It is of new beginnings and birth.
Allow yourself to succumb to its energy and let the moon show you what you need to learn at this time…….

After a moment, wolf calls you back and to let go of the new moon’s energy.
As you pull away, you begin to see the sliver of the moon begin to grow into a waxing crescent moon.
It’s energies of growth and love begin to surround you.
Allow the knowledge of where you are headed to enter you, let the moon show you what steps you need to take to grow at this time.

Again the wolf calls you back after a few moments, the images begin to fade and you are now overcome by the bright light of the full moon… The energies and power are almost too overwhelming.
It is time to open yourself up to them and be the full moon.
These powerful energies feel as though they are recharging you, like a battery.
You can feel your own magikal energies reach the highest they have ever been.
You are now glowing with pure positive energy.
The energy pours out of you in all directions and reflects off the clouds above and touches the trees and plants below.
As above, so below you are the full moon…

Just as you feel you are able to expand your energies around the world, the light fades into a waxing crescent moon.
It begins to draw back some of the energies you have just absorbed.
Along with some the full moon energies, the waning moon extracts all the negative thoughts you hide within yourself.
It takes your fears.
Your self created obstacles.
You can see all this pouring out of you in a long dark plume of black smoke…..

You are now floating in darkness, no sound…Total emptiness.
You are not afraid. You know you are protected by the spirit of the wolf.
This is the time to confront all the negatives that had poured out of you.
Face them, learn from them… This is the dark of the moon……….

After a moment, all the images begin to fade as you hear the cry of the wolf.
You have now returned to the hilltop, looking up, you can see all the moon phases in the sky.
Bid farewell to them, individually and thank them for their wisdom.

Eventually, the darken sky becomes day and before is the wolf.
Thank and honor his spirit.
You may also wish to take a moment to accept any wisdom he gives you.
Say your farewells.. Take 3 breaths, and open your eyes….

“Casting Creative Magickal Circles” by E. Massey




This 30+ page e-book outlines unique ways of casting magickal circles for all Eight Sabbaths and the Moon Phases. It Contains principle information and personal references that any coven or solitary witch would need to create fun and interesting rituals.


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